Friday, 20 June 2014

Things I Love Friday! #15

Hey Everyone!

Wishing you all a sunny Friday and a great weekend! :-) Thankfully it's right around the corner so only a few more hours to get through ;-)

I had an incredibly busy week: last Saturday attended a friend's wedding, slept 2 hours before leaving for the airport, spent 2 days with my family then once again got up at the crack of dawn to fly back home. Then I spent a whole day (running on about 5 hours of sleep only) trying to renew my driver's license and ID, so it was a hellish day and started work the next day. Can you say oompf? So yes, I've been counting back the days (what days, hours!) till the weekend so that I could get some rest and sleep. Can't believe it's almost here!

So these are the things that I love this Friday:
  • my bright firetruck red peeptoes with a bow! They are so cheery and cute, make me smile every time I glimpse them;
  • buying lots of cherries and sour cherries at the farmer's market and looking forward to baking something with them during the weekend;
  •  buying healthy aluminium salt-free deo. I've wanted to switch to a greener and healthier product and this one smells great due to the lemongrass and basil combo, hope it will work well;
  • a friend recommended to me Paula's Choice cosmetics and I ordered a bunch of samples to try out, I'm always so excited when trying out new things :-)
  • spending a relaxing weekend at home. At least that's the plan...
  • hearing the wind ruffle the leaves of the trees outside my window;
  • salty caramel sauce. Be it on ice cream or toast, with fruits dipped in it or just by itself with a spoon, it is delish! *yum*
  •  spending summer nights with my best friends until night falls sitting on the porch and drinking wine and chatting the hours away;
  • surprising Boyfriend on his return from his parents' after a 3 day-long separation;
  • flowers! The brighter the better :-D 
So what are your plans for this weekend? And what were the things that made you happy this week? :-)

Source: Sally's Baking Addiction

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Guest post by Diana Quincy + Giveaway

Please join me in welcoming the lovely Diana Quincy to Ex Libris today! Diana is here to tell us more about her inspiration for Engaging the Earl, the 4th book in her Accidental Peers series, which you might remember that I am a huge fan of! So read on and if you haven't read this series yet, don't waste any more time, pick it up, I'm sure you'll love it!

My Inspiration for Engaging the Earl
by Diana Quincy

In Engaging the Earl, the hero, Edward Stanhope, a second son with no prospects, is rejected as an appropriate suitor for Lady Katharine Granville, an earl's daughter. Devastated, he joins the fight against Napoleon, determined to make a name for himself. He returns years later on the very evening Kat becomes engaged to another man.

Edward’s journey was loosely inspired by Arthur Wellesley, the famed Duke of Wellington, who defeated Napoleon’s forces on the battlefield and later became prime minister.

Elements of his personal story are surprisingly romantic and I drew on that for Engaging the Earl. Like Edward, the future duke fell in love—with a woman named Catherine Pakenham, known as Kitty—but his offer of marriage was rejected by the lady’s brother, the Earl of Longford. As the third son of an earl, Wellesley was in debt and his future prospects were considered to be poor. Devastated by the rejection, Wellesley, an aspiring musician, burned his violins in anger and vowed to forge a successful military career.

Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington
He succeeded and today is remembered as one of England’s greatest military heroes. After Napoleon was exiled in 1814, Wellesley was granted a dukedom for his exemplary wartime service. Ten years after his first proposal, Wellington returned to Kitty and renewed his offer of marriage.

Unfortunately, despite these romantic beginnings, the marriage was not a happy one. Wellington was disappointed by the change in Kitty. Where she’d once been pretty and vivacious, Kitty was now pale and in poor health. Wellington is reported to have said to his brother, “She has grown ugly, by Jove!” They lived apart most of the time, although they did have two sons together.

Wellesley became close to Harriet Arbuthnot, the wife of a colleague, who was also an accomplished diarist and wrote extensively about her relationship with Wellington. Regarding his wife, Harriet wrote that the duke had “repeatedly tried to live in a friendly manner with her...but it was impossible...and it drove him to seek that comfort & happiness abroad that was denied him at home.”

Duchess of Wellington
Kitty died of cancer in 1831 with Wellington by her side. Harriet’s death from cholera three years later devastated both her husband and the duke. The two widowers spent their last years together at Aspley House, Wellington’s London residence.

The Duke of Wellington’s story would certainly make an entertaining book; however, it does not make for a good romance. In Engaging the Earl, I borrowed some of the most romantic aspects of the duke’s life and then changed course, giving our fictional hero and heroine their own unique story, including the much-deserved happy ending that Wellington and his Kitty were denied.

Top 5 Reasons Engaging the Earl would make an excellent Beach Read

1. Intriguing set-up (long-lost first love, second chance at love) I don’t know about you, but I love stories of long-lost first love and second chances.

2. What's keeping them apart Not only does Lady Kat have a newly acquired fiancé, but Edward believes he is going mad because he suffers from nostalgia…better known today as Post Traumatic Stress, a condition suffered by soldiers who return from the battlefront. 

3. Twists & turns Elena, Edward's bombshell former mistress, and Viscount Lawrence Sinclair, Kat's betrothed, don't exactly behave as you'd expect which leads to some unexpected twists and turns. 

4. Real-life inspiration: As I mentioned above, Edward is loosely inspired by Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington, who wasn’t allowed to marry an earl’s daughter because he was a second son with no prospects. Ten years later, after gaining a dukedom for his war service, Wellington returned to marry the woman he left behind.

5. There's a dog in it! The heroine’s dog helps Edward cope with his attacks. I decided to bring a dog into the story after being moved by an article about an Iraq war veteran whose trained service dog helps him manage his PTS.

Engaging the Earl by Diana Quincy

Book #4 in the Accidental Peers series

England, 1819

Vivacious Lady Katherine Granville is the toast of the ton, but society's most eligible miss secretly yearns for her childhood love, an untitled loner who vanished long ago after her father forbade their marriage.

After years abroad, the dark and brooding Edward Stanhope returns to England a changed man. No longer a second son with no prospects, his battlefield strategies have won him an earldom. His return should be a victorious one, but the new Earl of Randolph is battling secret demons that no one can discover. Least of all, Kat.

When the man she can't forget reappears at her betrothal ball, Kat's perfectly arranged future is thrown into tumult. Edward remains cold and distant, hoping she'll marry a man worthy of her. But nothing is settled when Kat sets out to win back her first love. Can the new Earl of Randolph resist the woman he's loved for so many years?

Buy at Amazon - B&N

Diana Quincy is an award-winning former television journalist who decided she'd rather make up stories where a happy ending is always guaranteed. Growing up as a foreign service brat, Diana lived in many countries and is now settled in Virginia with her husband and two sons. When not bent over her laptop or trying to keep up with laundry, she enjoys reading, spending time with her family and dreams of traveling much more than her current schedule (and budget) allows. Diana loves to hear from readers. You can connect with her at: 



GIVEAWAY RULES:

To be entered fill out the Rafflecopter form below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway is open worldwide and ends on 20 June 2014!

Good Luck!

Saturday, 14 June 2014

And the winners are...


Hey Everyone!

I have a couple of winners to announce of past giveaways that ended, so congrats to 

the lucky winner of a signed paperback copy of Possessed by a Warrior by Sharon Ashwood is

Ana


the lucky winner of a $5 USD Amazon gift card from Delilah Marvelle is

Mary Preston


the lucky winner of their choice of book from Erin Nicholas' backlist is

Jess1


Congratulations winners! I have sent you all a notification e-mail, please get back to me within 48 hours or I will have to draw new winners. Thank you!

Don't forget to enter all the ongoing giveaways you can find a direct link to each one of them at the top of the blog.
 

Friday, 13 June 2014

Things I Love Friday! #14

Hey Everyone!

I am back from Istanbul, had a blast,saw so many beautiful sights, bought some wonderful scarves and Aladdin lamps and spices, but of course as this was more of a "let's see as many places as we can cram into our 3.5 days", there was not much time for rest. Well, I'll get some rest next weekend, I'll just have to survive until then ;-p

So here are the things that brighten my days this week:
  • day long board game parties with friends;
  • eating huge bowls of fruit for breakfast! I just had a mix of cherry, sour cherry, red-currant and kiwi bowl :-)
  • sundresses! Love that getting ready in the morning got so simple, I just slip on a dress and a pair of sandals and I'm dressed!
  • slurping fresh lemonades at outdoor bars on week nights with friends;
  • weddings! Tomorrow I'll be attending the wedding of one of my ex-colleagues and can't wait to share in the happiness of the bride&groom and dance the night away :-)
  • on Sunday I'll fly off to visit my family for a short few days;
  • planning summer vacations even though I just got back from one ;-P
  • fruit sangrias! I'll make this one during the weekend. And this one looks mouthwatering as well, will have to make it next time I'm having guests over.
  • shopping for kitchen appliances. Can't wait to browse the store for citrus press, waffle maker, etc. fow my new apartrment! :-)
  • the fact that the sun goes down around 9:30 pm and we can enjoy the day that long! yay!
 And what are your weekend plans?
Photo: Gimme Some Oven

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Guest post by Susannah Sandlin + Giveaway

Please give a warm welcome to Susannah Sandlin, who is here celebrating the release of Allegiance, the 4th book in her Penton Legacy series! Susannah chose to tell us about all the vampire rules and how they affected her stories (or rather how her stories affected those set in stone rules) and you could even win your book of choice as detailed below. :-)

Twisting the Rules
by Susannah Sandlin

When I began writing the first book in the Penton Legacy series back in 2010, the book that would eventually become Redemption, a little nagging voice in the back of my mind kept says things like “Vampires? They’re a dead genre” and “there’s nothing new under the sun in the vampire world.”

Because that little nagging voice likes puns.

But it was true, and still is, even as ALLEGIANCE, the fourth book in the series, makes its debut. It’s hard to find something new in the world of fangs and blood, so it’s up to today’s authors of paranormal fiction to put their own new spin on the old myth. Here are a few traditional vampire rules and how I decided to treat them.

* Vampires need human blood to stay alive. I decided to keep this rule. The twist? In the Penton world, the humans survived a recent worldwide pandemic by getting a new vaccine that made a very minor change in their blood chemistry. Good news for humans? The vaccine worked. Bad news for vampires? The blood of vaccinated human became poisonous to them. So vampires are starving, fighting over unvaccinated humans, and on the verge of civil war between the vampires like those of Penton, who want to find a peaceful solution, and the vampire leaders, who prefer things like operating a black market for “clean” humans. [My 6-foot-8 Scottish behemoth of a vampire, who really misses food, recently learned he can taste really rich food like sugar and butter if he feeds about a half hour after his Significant Human eats. They’ve been having WAY too much fun, but Glory is worried about her weight!]

* Vampires can’t go out in sunlight. Another rule I decided to keep. It creates a challenge to figure out how to get around that pesky need to find a safe, dark space by dawn, especially when one is under attack. My vampires won’t glitter if they go outside; they fry.

* Vampires are weakened by garlic. Nah, ditch this one. Plus the anti-vampire contingent would always reek. What I did decide to use was the magical properties of silver. It isn’t deadly, as it might be to a werewolf, but if injured with a pure silver blade, for example, the vampire would heal at only slightly faster than human rate. Or if bound with silver chain, his physical strength would be little more than human. Hey, you gotta slow them down some way!

* Vampires are sexy. Well, duh.

* Vampires are undead. I decided to not go down the old “sleeping with the dead guy” road, so my vampires aren’t dead but evolved. Their hearts beat, only more slowly. They bleed, but their blood would never pass for human—it’s more magenta than crimson. They don’t “die” and stop breathing when they go into their daysleep, as they call it, but they’re pretty much comatose. The really old ones can move around a little if in a light-tight space. They can’t eat food, but if they don’t feed, they will eventually get so weak they’ll kind of shrivel up and be in such a weakened state they can’t move. Which is why poisonous human blood is a Very Big Deal.

* Vampires can fly. Not in my world, unless they’re in an airplane. They wish they could, though.

* Vampires are arrogant and world-weary look down on humans. Some do, and consider them a species to be used. Others realize that it’s only humans that keep them alive, and they treat them with the respect and dignity they’d treat anyone else. And there is the yin and yang of the series, and the conflict at the heart of the looming civil war.

So, how about it, paranormal fans. Are you tired of vampires, or do you still find them the sexiest things in fangs?

Allegiance by Susannah Sandlin

Book #4 in the Penton legacy series

British vampire psychiatrist and former mercenary Cage Reynolds returns to Penton, Alabama, looking for a permanent home. The town has been ravaged by the ongoing vampire war and the shortage of untainted human blood, and now the vampires and humans that make up the Omega Force are trying to rebuild. Cage hopes to help the cause, put down roots in Penton, and resolve his relationship with Melissa Calvert. The last thing he expects is to find himself drawn to Robin Ashton, a trash-talking eagle shape-shifter and new Omega recruit.

Meanwhile, as a dangerous saboteur wreaks havoc in Penton, the ruthless Vampire Tribunal leader Matthias Ludlam has been freed on the eve of his scheduled execution. But by whom? And to what end? As war and chaos rage on, love isn’t something Cage is looking for, but will his attraction to Robin distract him from the danger living among them?


Susannah Sandlin is a native of Winfield, Alabama, and has worked as a writer/editor in educational publishing in Alabama, Illinois, Texas, California, and Louisiana. She currently lives in Auburn, Alabama, with two rescue dogs named after professional wrestlers (it was a phase). She has a no-longer-secret passion for Cajun music, Canadian French pop music, and reality TV. She's single and is on the hunt for a longhaul Ice Road Trucker who also hunts gators.

Find Susannah at her website / Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads


GIVEAWAY RULES:

Susannah has generously offered winner's choice of book from her Penton Legacy series (Redemption, Absolution, Omega), the standalone paranormal romance Storm Force, or the romantic thriller Lovely, Dark, and Deep.


To be entered just leave a comment and answer Susannah's question: Are you tired of vampires, or do you still find them the sexiest things in fangs?

Giveaway is open worldwide (wherever the Book Depository ships) and ends on 27 June 2012!

Good luck!

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

The Wedding Dare series + Giveaway


Summer is here, which also means that wedding season is upon us! If you follow the blog you know how much I love wedding romances. Well today I am happy to tell you about a brand new series featuring 5 scorching hot steamy wedding themed contemporary romance stories! Read on to learn more about the books and for your chance to win the bridal shower themed giveaway at the end! ;-)

Romantic Stories from how we met our husbands

We’re so thrilled to be here today to share the stories in our new Wedding Dare continuity series! A continuity refers to stories by different authors that take place at the same time or one right after the other, sharing characters, settings, and plots. The Wedding Dare series kicked off with Laura Kaye’s Dare to Resist, which tells the story of how the bride and groom fell in love, and continues with the brand new releases of:





Today, we’re very excited to share romantic stories from how each of us met our own husbands. Here we go:

Laura Kaye: My husband Brian and I met one summer when we were both interns at the college we attended. I knew him from around campus, but that summer we became friends along with a big group of other interns. All summer, we tried to help each other hook up with other people, and then a few weeks before the end of the summer, we went to the movies with a big group (Hot Shots, Part Deux LOL) and he turned to me mid-movie with a Twizzler sticking out of his mouth, daring me to bite it. I did. That was the first night we kissed, 23 years ago!


Tessa Bailey: My husband and I met while I was waitressing at a pub in New York City. He stopped into the bar while walking his dog and I fell in love on the spot. Only to realize, he was there to see my uncle, who owned the bar. They had been good friends for years (and still are) but it also put my now-husband off limits. Not that I listened :)


Katee Robert: My story is nearly as full of shenanigans as my books are. I met my hubby across a poker table in a dingy bar (I won!). Seeing as I was still married at the time, I fled in a most dignified fashion. Three years, some ups and downs, and a whole lot of circling later, the stars finally aligned and we were married in Vegas last summer.


Samanthe Beck: I like to tell people I met my husband in a Tijuana prison, but the truth is much, much darker. We were in law school, studying abroad in London. Okay, technically, we met in the South Side Bar in Kensington, but I had to leave early because a friend leaned across the table and told me the red wine I was drinking was turning my teeth black. (Sexy!). Anyway, hubs figured out right away that I liked him, and every time I would try to sit next to him in class, he’d be like, “No! That seat is taken!”


Diane Alberts: So, the first time I met my husband, he literally fell at my feet. Not even kidding! We were walking down a hill at a nighttime party, and I knew there was a hill. He didn’t. Needless to say...he wiped out. The funny thing is, the man never falls. Like, EVER. So I always tease him that I swept him off his feet. Cause I did!


Now it’s your turn! If you’ve got a fun romantic story of how you met your significant other, share it!


About the Authors:

Laura Kaye is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over a dozen novels in contemporary and paranormal romance and romantic suspense, including the Hard Ink, Heroes, and Hearts of the Anemoi series. Learn more at LauraKayeAuthor.com

Tessa Bailey is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of contemporary and new adult romance. Learn more about her new releases at www.tessabailey.com

Katee Robert is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of contemporary and speculative fiction romance. Check out her newest releases at www.kateerobert.com

Samanthe Beck is a USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance for Entangled’s Brazen line. Learn more about her books at www.samanthebeck.com

Diane Albert is a multi-published, bestselling contemporary romance author with Entangled Publishing. She also writes New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling new adult books under the name Jen McLaughlin. She's hit the Top 100 lists on Amazon and Barnes and Noble numerous times with numerous titles. She was mentioned in Forbes alongside E. L. James as one of the breakout independent authors to dominate the bestselling lists. Diane is represented by Louise Fury at The Bent Agency.


The Wedding Dare Series - 1 Wedding ... 4 Hot Stories

Falling for the Groomsman by Jen McLaughlin writing as Diane Alberts

She’s the one that got away. He’s the one she can’t forget.

Photojournalist Christine Forsythe is ready to tackle her naughty to-do list, and who better to tap for the job than a hot groomsman? But when she crashes into her best friend’s older brother, her plans change. Tyler Dresco took her virginity during the best night of her life, then bolted. The insatiable heat between them has only grown stronger, but Christine wants revenge. Soon, she’s caught in her own trap of seduction. And before the wedding is over, Tyler’s not the only one wanting more…

Find Diane Online

Baiting the Maid of Honor by Tessa Bailey

He’ll own her from the very first touch.

Julie Piper and Reed Lawson are polar opposites. She’s a people-pleasing former sorority girl. He’s a take-no-prisoners SWAT commander who isolates himself from the world. Until he sees Julie. When they’re forced together at their friends’ posh destination wedding and she’s dared to seduce another man, Reed takes matters into his own hands. One night should be all he needs to get the blond temptress out of his system, but he’s about to find out one taste is never enough…

Find Tessa Online


Seducing the Bridesmaid by Katee Robert

She has a plan. He’s about to change it.

Regan Wakefield is unafraid to go after what she wants, so she’s thrilled when her friend's wedding offers her an opportunity to score Logan McCade, the practically perfect best man. Unfortunately, groomsman Brock McNeil keeps getting in her way, riling her up in the most delicious of ways.Regan may pretend the erotic electricity sparking between them is simply a distraction, but Brock will do whatever it takes to convince Regan that the best man for her is him.

Find Katee Online


Best Man with Benefits by Samanthe Beck

How far can one favor go…

Logan McCade’s best man duties have just been expanded. Coaxing the groom’s little sister out of her shell should be easy for a high-octane extrovert like himself—or so he thinks until he’s blindsided by the delectably awkward Sophie Brooks. She’s sweet, sexy, and brings much-needed calm to his hectic, workaholic life. Soon, he’s tempting her to explore all her forbidden fantasies…and wondering exactly how far a favor to his best friend can go.

Find Samanthe Online


Don't miss where it all began...

Dare to Resist by Laura Kaye

Trapped and tempted, this battle of wills rages all night long…

Colton Brooks is in hell. Being trapped in a tiny motel room with Kady Dresco, the object of his darkest fantasies, will require every ounce of his restraint. She’s his best friend’s brilliant little sister, not to mention his competition for a lucrative military security services contract. Craving her submission is not allowed. But as her proximity and the memory of their steamy near-miss three years ago slowly destroys his resolve, Colton’s not sure how much longer he can keep his hands off…or his heart closed.

Find Laura Online




GIVEAWAY RULES:

To be entered to win a bridal shower themed package just fill out the Rafflecopter form below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, 6 June 2014

Things I Love Friday! #13

Hey Everyone!

Actually I am far far away on a mini vacation so I had to write my list in advance, but that does not mean there aren't plenty of things making me happy this Friday. See for yourself what makes me giddy this week:
  • spending 4 days in Istanbul, Turkey! I've been there when I was a teen with my family and LOVED it! The people were so friendly, the sights were mesmerizing and the food delicious! I couldn't wait to be back and now we'll rediscover with Boyfriend the majestic and spellbinding city that Istanbul is :-) So be aware, this list will be heavy on Turkish things ;-)
  • packing! I just love packing before leaving, all that excitement! (unpacking is a whole other story, I hate it ;-/ )
  • visiting a Turkish bath
  • the bazaar! can't wait to buy scarves and spices and anything else I won't be able to resist
  • boat trip on the Bosphorus
  • all the delicious Turkish food and baklava!
  • mosques and minarets, don't they look like a palace from a fairy tale?
  • This is the 13th Things I love Friday! 13 is my family's lucky number: my dad, my sis, my god-daughter and her sister were all born on the 13th and it's Boyfriend's birthday as well :-) I've had plenty of exams on Friday the 13th and always went to it believing it will bring me luck, and it did! 

 Have a great weekend everyone! Where would you travel if money wasn't an option?

I would love to visit New Zealand, and Central and Latin America (Peru, Argentina, Brazil), Indonesia, Vietnam, and I could go on :-)

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Guest post by Sherri Browning + Giveaway

Although in the past couple of years I became enamored with contemporary romances my first and foremost romantic love were historical romances. I loved both reading them as well as watching period dramas. So it goes without saying I am a big Downton Abbey fan, actually I introduced my whole family to it :-) So when I first saw Sherri Browning's Thornbrook Park marketed as "Fans of Downton Abbey will adore this brand-new Edwardian-period romance series set at the grand estate of Thornbrook Park, seat of the Earl of Averford." I immediately cried out: sold! So it is with great pleasure that I welcome to Ex Libris Sherri Browning, who is here to share with you some tips about how to throw the perfect Edwardian dinner party! Leave us a comment and you'll be entered to win 1 of the 3 paperback copies of Thornbrook Park! :-)
 

Throwing The Perfect Edwardian Dinner Party
by Sherri Browning

My new novel Thornbrook Park was inspired by my love for the popular television drama, Downton Abbey. I wanted to build a world around a grand old house and explore the interactions between the upstairs family and downstairs staff. Gabriel Thorne, the Earl of Averford, and his wife Sophia are the custodians of Thornbrook Park as Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham, and his wife Cora are of Downton Abbey.

Like Robert and Cora, Gabriel and Sophia are fond of entertainment and dinner parties are common at Thornbrook Park, where dinner almost every night is a formal event. But you don’t have to be a countess to throw a party like one.

Here are some general rules as well as hints and tips for throwing the perfect Edwardian dinner party:

- A good Edwardian hostess sends invitations three to six weeks prior to the event. For planning purposes, it’s a good idea to give guests plenty of advance notice and time to RSVP.


- A typical Edwardian dinner begins at eight or nine, but expect guests to arrive fifteen minutes prior to the arrival time suggested on the invitation.

- Encourage your friends to dress for dinner! Make it a grand affair. But don’t pout if they fail to impress. Nobody likes a demanding hostess.

- On arrival, greet your guests and take their cloaks to a “cloak room” then gather in the drawing room for light conversation until everyone arrives. Perhaps you can encourage someone to play butler and announce each guest, or do the honors yourself and take care to introduce everyone.


- In Edwardian times, slow, heavy meals fell out of fashion in favor of a number of swift but filling courses, with time for cordials and entertainment after the meal. A truly authentic meal will include:

  • First course: Soup or consommé accompanied by sherry.
  • Second course: Fish followed by a good white wine.
  • Entree course: This might be mutton cutlets, sweetbreads, or a vol-au-vent (pastry shell filled with a savory like seafood or chicken) with champagne or claret.
  • The remove or relevé course: More substantial than an entrée, the remove might be a joint of meat, a meat pie, or filet mignon with potatoes and vegetables, served with a proper accompanying wine, red or white.
  • The roast course: Duck or pheasant with game chips (cottage potatoes), or perhaps Cornish hens, served with a claret.
  • Next course (yes, there’s more!): A series of small dishes known as entremets, which would consist of: a savory like sardines or cheese, a dressed vegetable (perhaps creamed peas), and a fruit tart.

- After dessert, the ladies might retire to the drawing room while the men stay on and smoke. Coffee or cordials can be served in the drawing room once the men join the women again.

- Guests will assume that midnight will be the usual parting hour, however, you can enjoy your evening as late as you like, as long as everyone’s having fun.


- And might I suggest giving your guests a parting gift of Thornbrook Park to devour once they get home?

~ Sherri Browning


Book #1 in the Thronbrook Park series

Fans of Downton Abbey will adore this brand-new Edwardian-period romance series set at the grand estate of Thornbrook Park, seat of the Earl of Averford.

In a world poised for epic change...

Disowned for marrying beneath her, Eve Kendal has returned to England destitute after her husband's death and the mysterious disappearance of their savings. She's looking for survival, not romance. But from London to the Yorkshire countryside to the elegant estate of Thornbrook Park, Eve's path seems destined to cross that of the dashing but violent Captain Marcus Thorne.

Anything can happen...

For Marcus, a return home means facing the demons that drove him to war in the first place. As he and Eve begin a steamy affair, tensions that had been simmering just beneath the surface threaten to explode and shake the very foundations of Thornbrook Park.

Buy at Amazon - Kindle - B&N - iTunes

Exclusive Excerpt

“You didn’t think I would remember you?”

Eve bit her pretty, pink lip and looked down. “I’m sorry. I don’t know what you mean.”

Yet unwilling to give up the game? Marcus slipped a finger under her chin and urged her to lift her face until she met his gaze. For more than a few seconds, they remained as if frozen, looking into each other’s eyes. Hers held a wealth of secrets, he imagined, and he suddenly wished he could uncover them all.

“Sweet mercy, woman, I couldn’t forget you. You stayed with me, a stranger, at my bedside the whole night.”

“Not quite the whole night. It was foolish of me, I know, but you seemed so frantic and—”

“Foolish? It was the kindest thing anyone’s ever done for me. Embarrassed as I am that you’ve seen me at my worst, I’m relieved to have the chance to thank you. Sutton denied you’d even been there. I’d begun to think I’d dreamed you up.”

“I asked Sutton not to mention my presence, just in case our paths ever crossed again. Though, I truly didn’t think they would so soon. I had no idea you would come here, and then Sophia, well…” Her lips curved into a smile that lit her whole face, making the gas-flame blue eyes flare all the brighter. “You’re welcome. Now let’s put it behind us, shall we? Probably best if we never think of it again.”

“But you wrote the letter to bring me back to Thornbrook Park?”

“I wrote it,” she confessed. “Sophia asked me for help. She told me most of what to say. I couldn’t deny her request, though I had no idea that it would actually succeed in enticing you here.”

“I was overdue for a visit. Now I find that I’m meant for Lady Alice. Don’t deny it. I overheard you and Sophia.”

Eve blushed. “She has high hopes for you and Alice.”

“She’s not used to being disappointed, is she?”

She shook her head. “She’s determined to have her way in all things.”

“Then you’ll have to help me. Let’s give her a little scare when I ignore Alice and flirt with you tonight at dinner instead.” He smiled conspiratorially. “Are you game?”

“For flirting?” She laughed. “Sophia won’t like it at all. What kind of friend would I be?”

“Come on,” he urged. “Let’s have some fun with her. No harm done.”

“I don’t know.” She tilted her head, a golden strand falling from her chignon to brush her cheek. He resisted the urge to sweep it aside. “What’s the fun in flirting if you’re guaranteed success?” she asked. “You’ll just have to see what happens if you try.”

She took her hand from the crook of his arm to continue on alone. He trailed after her. “Mrs. Kendal, you minx. I believe you’ve already started.”

Buy at Amazon - Kindle - B&N - iTunes

Sherri Browning Erwin, best known for critically acclaimed classic mash-ups Jane Slayre and Grave Expectations, also writes paranormal romance and historical romance as Sherri Browning. A graduate of Mount Holyoke College, Sherri has lived in Massachusetts and Michigan, but is now settled with her family in Simsbury, Connecticut. Watch for her return to historical romance with the upcoming Thornbrook Park series.

Her books have been mentioned in People magazine, USA Today, Seventeen, the Huffington Post, the Wall Street Journal blog, UK’s Telegraph and Argus, and once, as the subject of a New York Times cartoon. She remains a diehard Patriots fan, a proud member of Red Sox Nation, an adventurous eater, avid traveler, and a frequent visitor to Walt Disney World.

Connect with Sherri at her website - Facebook - Twitter - Goodreads


GIVEAWAY RULES:

Thanks to the generosity of Sherri THREE lucky winners will each win a paperback copy of Thornbrook Park by Sherri Browning!


To be entered in the giveaway just leave a comment and tell us: which time period is your favourite and why exactly?

Giveaway is open to US/Canada only and ends on 20 June 2014!

Good luck!

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Giveaway: Win Deep Down by Elle Aycart

I have read and loved Elle Aycart's previous novels, both More than Meets the Ink and Heavy Issues were verrry sexy and funny romances (if you haven't read Elle's work yet, take a look at my reviews and read a sample, I guarantee you'll be left wanting more!), so it's with great pleasure I bring you today's giveaway: Elle has generously offered an ebook copy of Deep Down to a lucky Ex Libris commenter! Check out the story, read the quotes and enter the giveaway at the end, you don't want to miss this!
 
Deep Down by Elle Aycart

Mike Haddican, proud small-town gym owner and renowned karate instructor, is an all-around good guy. He's never needed much to be happy. Only his family, his friends, his girl. Especially his girl. So when that girl up and left him seven years ago to chase her dreams, she all but destroyed him.

Sure, contemporary dancer Kyra Brims made it big, but it cost her dearly. Now her life and career are in shambles. She doesn't need a do-over; she needs a friggin' miracle. Injured, broke, and out of options, she returns to Alden, the town she swore she'd never see again -- and home of Mike Haddican, the man who ripped her soul to pieces -- to lick her wounds and recover.

Forgetting and letting go proved impossible when they were worlds apart; now that they’re stuck together they don’t stand a chance, especially with Mike’s grandma and her partners in crime plotting, meddling and refusing to give up on them. But as the passion that never died burns out of control, so do old hurts and unresolved issues. They're going to have to dig deep down to find forgiveness and the wisdom to move on.


And some of the readers' and Elle's favourite quotes to whet your appetite:

Few get a second chance at love. Fewer can see past old hurts to make it work.


Mike:

"If I thought I had a chance with you, I would have gone to hell and back."

"Every night, kitten, I went to sleep, closed my eyes, and it was your face I saw."


Kyra:

She cupped his face, feeling the bite of his stubble in her palms. "I love you, Mike. I've always loved you. Even when I was married to someone else, I still loved you. I loved you for so long I don't know how not to love you."


Deep Down is a second chance love story between a tattooed, pierced, dirty-talking, stubborn alpha male and the independent, equally stubborn woman that left him seven years ago. Now, forced to interact, the anger and hurt comes to the surface, along with an all-consuming passion that had never died.

He opened his hand on the small of her back and caressed her warm skin, feeling the tremors that racked her at his touch. “Let me have you tonight. I took your virginity, baby. All you know about pleasure you learned from me. I know how to make it work for you, how to do you right. I know what you like. And how you like it."


The OGs series is a spinoff from the Bowens featuring the OGs, The Original Grandmas, three crazy grandmas who decide Mike and Kyra are made for each other and they won't stand aside and let them waste any more time. Their escapades and their serious case of S.T.D. "Senior Texting Disorder" are hilarious.

The first message was from Wilma, and it had come half an hour ago.
Message: I was driving to Alden, pedal to the metal, when my tits blew off. Waiting for AAA. Can't make it to you.
Next Message: Damn auto correct. My TIRE blew off, not my tits.
Next Message: They blew off a couple of decades ago. One day they were there, next day bam! Gone.

"What does 'golden years' mean? How do you know you're in your golden years?"
"Let's put it this way; you're in your golden years when your secrets are safe with your friends because they can't remember them either."

"What do you do with all the what-ifs, Grandma?"
"I'm eighty-one. If there is one thing I've learned in life, it's that looking backward only gets you a stiff neck and a head contusion when you crash into the lamppost you didn't see in front of you."


Excerpt

Chapter One

“This is a bad idea, Grandma,” Mike said as he walked out of the dressing room at the community center, wearing nothing but his boxers and an intimidating scowl that, unfortunately and as usual, had no effect whatsoever on the old lady.

“Nonsense. The girls are anxiously waiting. Let’s roll,” she said as she pushed him forward and down the corridor.

Scratch bad. This was a shitty idea.

His grandmother was barely five feet tall and a hundred pounds when drenched. How she got the strength to push his big frame while he was literally dragging his feet was beyond him.

“Besides, you promised you’d do it.”

He snorted. “No, I didn’t. I promised I’d help you with your senior courses. Meaning I’d drive you around, do your shopping, and stuff like that. I didn’t agree to pose for your male-anatomy painting lessons. You know I’m too busy for this.” He’d stopped working as a foreman several years ago to run the family gym full-time with his dad, but last month Cole had taken on the renovation of the town’s library pro bono, and Mike had volunteered to help. That plus the gym and the martial-arts classes in the afternoons had taken up all his time. Fuck it if now that the library was almost ready he was going to invest whatever was left of the summer in this. “Can’t you guys use, I don’t know, a statue? Or better yet, a picture. There are plenty of books and—”

“Live human-anatomy painting, Mike,” she interrupted, emphasizing the word “live,” “and one is never too busy to help his grandmother.”

Well, it depended on how nutty the grandmother was, didn’t it?

“What about Mr. Honbacker or Mr. Stilt from bingo nights?” he asked, trying to get out if it. “I’m sure they are free and willing.”

His grandmother clicked her tongue. “The idea behind these classes is for us senior citizens to enjoy ourselves. We do know we have a foot in the grave. We have enough of a reality check every time we look in the mirror, honey. Besides, Mr. Stilt’s prostate is acting up again. He can’t stay still fifteen minutes to save his own life. And about Mr. Honbacker,” she added, lowering her voice, “Greta had a…fling with him. They are not on speaking terms. Some kinky thing he did with his false teeth, I hear.”

Oh man. There was an image he wouldn’t be able to erase from his mind even if he lived to be one hundred.

That was what he got for being nice—permanent brain damage.

“You’re a flawless specimen in the prime of your life,” she continued, reaching for his arm and squeezing his biceps appreciatively. “Handsome and fit. A perfect Michelangelo’s David.”

He turned his head to her. “You’re kidding me, right? Come on, do I look anything like Michelangelo’s David?”

She pondered his words as her gaze traveled over his bulk and tattoos, then settled on his face. “Well, your hair isn’t curly.”

He rolled his eyes. Trust her to focus on the most insignificant things.

For one, his hair was cropped so short it was barely there. And two, he was heavily tattooed, weighed around two hundred forty pounds, and a lifetime of practicing boxing and martial arts had granted him a body that had little to do with that of an effeminate boy.

“You’re a bit rougher than Michelangelo’s David,” she finally conceded, “but you’ll do nicely, I’m sure of it. The girls will be pleased.”

For the love of God.

“I’m your grandson, and you’re pimping me out. Don’t you see anything wrong with this picture?”

“Just humor us. We’re a bunch of women in our eighties. Half of us are blind; the other half won’t remember what we did today tomorrow. And you only have to pose. The girls voted for body oil to highlight your muscles, but they couldn’t agree who should help you rub it on, so I vetoed.”

“Fuck me,” he muttered as he dug his heels in.

Fucking hell.

That was what he got for going along with her wacky ideas. For not putting his foot down. Like when she decided her girls needed self-defense classes. They needed an extra edge, she’d said. Extra edge for what? What were those grandmas going to be doing? Strolling around Southie sporting colors? Considering their age, the best bet if anyone tried to rob them would be to hand over the purse. Better that than risk any injury. His grandmother hadn’t agreed, of course, and now, every Tuesday, there was a self-defense class for seniors down at the gym, where Mike was supposed to teach those charming ladies how to knock down a potential assailant without breaking any bones of their own.

“Come on, Mike, you know we’re harmless.”

Yeah, harmless his ass. He’d rather face a bloodthirsty firing squad or, better yet, the Hulk in a no-holds-barred underground fight than deal with all the guilt-tripping of the OGs—the Original Grandmas—what his grandmother and her partners in crime, Greta and Wilma, had fittingly named the messenger group they shared.

“Besides, you’ve been fooling around with too many women to count. I bet half the continental US has seen you naked. What does it matter if a bunch of grannies see you in your undies? Oh, look, I got a rhyme. Sort of. I need to remember it. For my creative-writing course. I’m compiling my memoirs.”

“Your memoirs? Why do you need creative writing for memoirs?”

She let out a soft snort. “You wouldn’t believe it.”

Next time Mr. Bowen came for a visit, Mike was so bribing him into taking her to Eternal Sun Resort in Florida. From what he’d heard, the senior community was more than adequately equipped to keep his grandmother entertained and the rest of the world out of trouble.

In the meantime, he needed to do some damage control.

“Grandma—”

Probably sensing he was about to hightail it out of there, she pulled out the big guns. “You promised, Mike. You can’t break your promises to me. For all you know, I could drop dead tomorrow, and you’d have to carry the guilt of breaking my heart for the rest of your life.”

God grant him patience.

“Oh please, you’ve been using the same I-could-drop-dead-tomorrow line to get away with whatever you wanted for the last twenty years.”

She shrugged. “I’ve just been lucky, but clearly I’m running out of time. The probability of me kicking the bucket becomes higher and higher with every passing day. You shouldn’t risk it.”

Right. She was in great shape, not only for her age but for someone ten years younger.

“A shameless blackmailer, that’s what you are,” he muttered as they approached the room, following the sound of animated chatter. “No oil. No rubbing. Heck, no touching at all. And the boxers are staying on, are we clear?” He wasn’t sure if Michelangelo’s David was a complete nude or if he had something covering his junk, but Mike had his suspicions, and no way in hell was he risking it.

She patted him condescendingly. “Of course, dear. It’s not our intention to make you uncomfortable in any way.”

Really? Thank fucking God, because he’d been nothing but damn uncomfortable since he’d set foot in the community center.

“For the record, Mike, none of us has had sex during this century, granted, but equipment-wise, I doubt you have something we haven’t seen before.”

He choked on the breath he was taking. He wouldn’t bet on that.

The second he entered the room, a perfectly heart-shaped ass clad in barely-there boy shorts that left the undersides of the ass cheeks in plain view welcomed him. Well, maybe this wasn’t such a bad idea after all. The girl was bent over, so he couldn’t see her face, but what he could see was very promising.

“I thought you needed a model for the male-anatomy painting class,” he whispered as he lifted his chin, greeting his grandmother’s blue-haired posse.

“No, I needed a male model for the anatomy painting class.”

She should have started with that. As an incentive if nothing else. He was still pissed he’d be spending every Wednesday posing in his damn underwear—hopefully—but at least he wouldn’t be alone in his misery and could entertain himself with eye candy.

He caught his grandmother’s gaze drifting away to the floor, a flash of unease on her face, and his joy took a nosedive.

Oh boy, why did he have a shitty feeling about this? Before he could ask anything, the owner of that glorious ass straightened, turned around, and his fucking heart jumped to his throat and stopped.

He froze.

There, standing in those sexy-like-hell shorts and a sports bra, showing off her toned, curvy, and mouthwatering body, looking surprised as all fuck—and displeased as all fuck too—was Kyra.

His Kyra.

No, not his Kyra anymore, he corrected himself.

He instinctively took a step back, the air suddenly too thick to breathe.

She’d been back in Alden for a bit over a month now, and this was the closest he’d been to her.

Much closer than he wanted to be ever again.

“A word?” he growled to his grandmother while moving back to the hallway, dragging her along.

Hoping he was out of earshot, he stopped and turned to her, his jaw clenched so tight he had trouble getting any words out. “Are you crazy?”

She thought for a second. “Is that a trick question? Because I warn you my admission won’t have any legal validity, in case you’re having funny thoughts.”

He ignored her. “Kyra? Really?” He hated the raw bitterness dripping from his voice, but there was nothing he could do about it.

She lifted her shoulders. “I had nothing to do with that. I was in charge of bringing a male model. Greta is the one who got Kyra.”

Sure she had nothing to do with Kyra being in there. His grandma, Wilma, and Greta made the three musketeers look like total strangers.

“Not doing it. No fucking way.”

“What’s the problem? You told me you were over her.”

Sure he was over her.

Over and fucking done, but that didn’t mean he wanted to spend any time around her. For one, because even now, seeing her or hearing her voice still sent a surge of pain through his chest, which, considering how fucking badly she’d crushed him all those years ago, pissed him off to no end. That, of course, he wasn’t going to explain to his grandmother.

Not that she needed any explanations to read him.

“I thought we could be mature about this,” he heard her say.

Fuck mature. He was running for the hills.

If it hadn’t been for the fact that he’d promised Cole he would help with the library’s renovation, he would have gotten the fuck out of Alden the very first day she came back. Then again, his father couldn’t manage the gym by himself, so he was stuck.

Since her return, out of pure self-preservation, he’d become a master at avoiding her, which in a place the size of Alden was a damn feat. Posing with her for a couple of hours in a confined space, without immediate means of escape, would blow to hell and back the frail status quo he’d managed to achieve. Not to mention he would lose whatever little was left of his frigging peace of mind. He’d have nothing to do but stare at her. At those gorgeous gray eyes of hers that he, once upon a time, used to wake up to. At that bee-stung, luscious mouth he used to spend hours kissing. At that sexy hourglass body he used to love fucking.

He shook his head. “Grandma, I—”

She sighed. “I understand. If you can’t take it, you can’t take it. I’ll walk right back in and say you can’t do it. You shouldn’t feel like any less of a man for it. It’s okay your feelings are still tender, my boy,” she said, patting his chest. “Nobody will think less of you.”

He groaned in exasperation. Fantastic. Now he’d look like a fucking pussy if he backed down.

Whatever. Worse things to look like in life than a pussy, even for a born fighter like him. Not sure what exactly, but he was sure there were some.

He turned around and began walking away.

“Michael Haddican, if you leave, we have to cancel the class. The whole course, probably. If we cancel, she won’t get paid. She needs the cash. She’s in trouble, my boy. I heard in two days—”

“Don’t want to hear it,” he said through gritted teeth, his tone harsh.

He didn’t want to hear a damn fucking word. Not a one. The sight of her and Sam was painful enough. He didn’t need a sound track to go with it, thank you very much.

He got a handful of steps more before he stopped and let out a low, pissed-off growl.

“Mike, please,” he heard his grandma say.

He slung his head forward.

Fuck. Shit. Crap.

He hated being played, but for the life of him he couldn’t walk away knowing he would be directly responsible for making Kyra’s situation more difficult than it already was. And why that mattered to him after all that had gone down, he couldn’t fathom. Well, he could; he was a moron in dire need of a lobotomy. Pronto.

After a long pause, his back still to his grandmother, he muttered, “I thought you said this was volunteer work.”

“For you it is. I’ve donated your pay to the church.”

He shook his head. He was so going to regret this.

God protect the unsuspecting soul who would spar with him in the gym later on. He was going to have so much pent-up aggression he would annihilate the poor bastard.

He turned around. “Just this once,” he said as sternly as he could muster. “You better find a substitute for next time. I don’t care if you have to make do with Mr. Honbacker and his kinky teeth or Mr. Stilt and his prostate. You either get someone else next time, or your classes will be canceled. You hear me?”

She beamed. “Yeah, yeah. I hear you.”

He drew in a deep breath and walked back inside.

He could do mature.

Hopefully.

The second his gaze landed on Kyra, he felt his cock stir. Jesus fucking Christ. Didn’t the little fucker have a smidgen of dignity?

Apparently not.

He should not only be lobotomized, he should be castrated too, for good measure.

Her voluptuous mane of black hair was twisted back in a knot, two hair sticks haphazardly holding it up. Thanks to her mixed Hispanic ancestry, she had sun-kissed skin, raven hair, and almond-shaped eyes. That they weren’t black but smoky gray made her even more exotic.

They stared at each other for a long second.

Man, to him she was the most beautiful woman in the world.

How the fuck was he going to pull this off?

“Mike,” Kyra greeted him, her voice clipped.

She wasn’t happier than he was at this moment. She stood stiff, eyeing the door as if she might bolt at any second. But he knew she wouldn’t. Like him, she’d always had a soft spot for his grandmother. Never mind how badly Kyra might need the money, she would be running out the door if this gig didn’t involve the OGs. Or maybe not. Who the fuck knew her now? Certainly not him. He wondered if he ever did.

Shaking those thoughts away, he nodded in her general direction. His cock followed suit.

Fuck, shit, crap. He had to get the fuck out of here.

He threw a dirty glance to his grandmother, who now was shamelessly smiling. Wilma and Greta, her sisters in mischief, were smiling too.

“Let’s get cracking,” the evil woman said, grabbing him by the arm and pushing him forward. “Come stand here in front of Kyra.”

He lifted his gaze up, chanced another look at Kyra, and his dick twitched again. Oh hell. These boxers were no barrier. At all. They were going to start tenting in three…two…one.

And cue public humiliation.

Well, if his cock burst straight through his pants and gave her friends a collective heart attack, his grandmother would have no one to blame but herself. Then again, sending half the senior population in Alden to the ER would be a hell of a way to end his Wednesday. He would never live that one down.

He took in a slow breath, and reaching deep inside into the place where he kept it all locked away, he released every ounce of pain that came hand in hand with Kyra, allowing the memories to flood into his mind. And with that, he felt his dick retreating.

Good.

Now he could do this.

OH GOD. HE was coming back. Stalking into the room like a cornered panther, baring his teeth. His body tense, his huge muscles bulging.

He was breathtaking.

Kyra had almost fallen on her ass the second she’d seen Mike there. Only a lifetime of training in not showing her emotions had kept her standing.

He’d been smiling. That lazy, drawn-out smile she’d loved so much. Until he’d seen her. Then his face had fallen along with his smile and his expressive eyes. Now his gaze was blank. And his jaw about to split in two.

She would have loved to run away, much in the same manner he’d done. And not just out of this room, but out of this town and this state. Out of her frigging life. But she couldn’t. And there was Sam to think about.

She needed the money, so she hid her shaking hands behind her back, breathed in deep and slow, and brought up that memory, the one of Mike looking straight at her and shattering her world. Rage filled her, cracking up her spine. Stilling the tremor in her hands.

Good.

Now she could do this.

Copyright Elle Aycart 2014


Where to find Elle: Website / Goodreads


GIVEAWAY RULES:

To be entered to win an ebook copy of Deep Down read the excerpt above and answer the following question in a  comment: What are the names of the Original Grandmas?



Giveaway is open worldwide and ends on 20 June 2014!

Good luck! 

Related Posts with Thumbnails